The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was, I’m sure we can all agree, a triumphant masterpiece for Nintendo. The company’s first stab at a truly open world game was a breathtaking, lush, and constantly surprising beast.
It’s no secret that during development, Eiji Aonuma and his team were greatly inspired by what was (at the time) arguably the most popular open world fantasy game of all – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
Straight up copying everything people liked about Skyrim wouldn’t have been Nintendo’s style of course, and Breath of the Wild is quite clearly a unique creation. Instead, Aonuma’s team opted to look at the game and address what worked, and what they felt didn’t, all while collecting data on the world and gauging just how much work they had to do.
This process obviously worked for Nintendo, as Breath of the Wild was a critical and commercial hit – one that people are still sinking hours into, two years after release. The love for the game clearly hasn’t gone unnoticed, as Nintendo dropped the surprise news at E3 2019 that a direct sequel is now in development.
Details on the new game are incredibly thin on the ground right now. We know it’ll follow on directly from Breath of the Wild and will have that game’s cel-shaded art style, but beyond that? It’s a mystery wrapped up in a enigma, tucked away in a whisper.
One exciting detail that might give us some clue as to what to expect from the next Zelda has come from Aonuma himself though. The longtime Zelda producer revealed in an interview with IGN that a lot of the younger members of the development team have been playing a lot of Red Dead Redemption 2, and are finding themselves motivated by Rockstar’s epic Western.
This probably doesn’t mean that the next Zelda will have shrinking horse testicles and a gritty side quest in which Link hunts down a grizzled serial killer, but there are a few things I think we could expect as a result of Red Dead as a motivation. This next part is purely speculation and wishful on my part though, so don’t take it as gospel.
First and foremost, I reckon we’ll see more engaging “random” overworld events in the sequel that are more in line with the Stranger events that you could come across in Red Dead Redemption 2. Breath of the Wild’s world had a few roaming NPCs, but there was never much going on with them. I expect that to change in the sequel, and that they’ll lead us to more robust side quests and other goodies.
I also think it’s likely that Nintendo will put even more focus on survival elements. Maybe we’ll get a hunger/thirst meter to manage, or will have to stop and set up camp at various points in order to rest? I don’t really want this one as a feature, but I can see it happening.
Finally, I think Nintendo might have a crack at a bigger, more ambitious story. Breath of the Wild’s narrative was quite loose, presumably as the studio learned the best way to build an open world game. Now that the team has that down, perhaps a greater focus can be placed on narrative?
Whatever happens, we’re getting another full Zelda game on Switch, and that’s glorious. In the meantime, you can check out my thoughts on the other Zelda game coming to Switch; the delightful-looking remake of Link’s Awakening.
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.